Litterae annuae provinciae Paraquariae Societatis Jesu

Antwerp, Jean van Meurs, 1636.

£4,850 [SOLD]

FIRST EDITION. 8vo., pp. 168. Roman letter; few decorated initials; one blank corner of repair to title page, some age browning, occasional lateral underlining in red pencil. A good copy in contemporary vellum, early title inscription on spine and shelfmark on front cover, all edges red; lightly worn joints; front pastedown and endpaper from eighteenth-century Spanish manuscript letter; on title, two nineteen- and twenty-century library stamps and contemporary inscription ‘Del Diacceti Mon…bro’, probably member of the Florentine noble family; early account note on rear end paper verso.

First edition of this remarkable report from the Jesuit missions in Paraguay. Nicola Mastrilli (1568-1653), from Naples, was a prominent churchman of the New World. After joining the Jesuit order, he was sent to Peru, where he changed his surname into Durán and graduated at the University of Lima. He distinguished himself as a zealous preacher, directing in Juli (Bolivia) the first Jesuit mission deeply engaged with the evangelisation of the local population. In 1623, he was elected supervisor of the province of Paraguay and then of the whole Peru. His care for the Indians was all but common among the Spanish establishment and was questioned even by some members of his order.

These letters, addressed to the general of the Society, Muzio Vitelleschi, recorded the fast expansion of Jesuit activities in the southern region of the Spanish Viceroyalty, mainly between 1626 and 1627. They were written on Mastrilli’s behalf by his confrere and collaborator, the Belgian Jean Rançonier. As other contemporary reports from the Americas and the Levant, the letters met immediate success and were translated into French two years later.

Alden, 636/37; Medina, BHA 953; Sabin, 21407; Palau, 77442.


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Relation de ce qui s’est passé de plus remarquable és missions des Peres de la Compagnie de Iesus, en la Nouuelle France, es annees 1650 & 1651

Paris, Sebastien Cramoisy, et Gabriel Cramoisy, ruë S. Iacques, aux Cicognes, 1652.


FIRST EDITION. 8vo. pp. (iv) 146, (ii). π² A-H⁸ I-K⁴ L². Roman letter, some Italic. Cramoisy’s woodcut device on title, woodcut initials and headpieces, typographical ornaments. Light age yellowing, some light browning and spotting. A very good clean, entirely unsophisticated copy in contemporary limp vellum.

Important and extremely rare first edition of this account by the Jesuit missionary Paul Ragueneau of the mission in Canada, including a highly important description of the mission and travels of Father Buteaux. After having been the subordinate of Jean de Brébeuf and Jérôme Lalemant for eight years, Father Ragueneau became superior of the Huron mission in 1645. We owe to him the “Relations des Hurons” for 1646, 1647, 1648, that of 1649 which recounts the destruction of the mission and the martyrdom of Fathers Brébeuf and Gabriel Lalemant, and that of 1650 which describes the ardours of the winter spent at Île Saint-Joseph (Christian Island) and the emigration and resettlement of the Hurons under the protection of the fort at Quebec.

This work is of particular importance as it records the state of the missions in New France after the defeat of the mission by the Iroquois nation. The second part is the journal of the travels of Father Buteaux to the Attikamegues. Buteaux was a French-born Jesuit who came to Canada in 1634 and was assigned to Trois-Rivières, where he ministered until his death in 1652. “The annihilation of the Huron missions in 1649 induced the missionary to reply to the pressing invitations extended by the Attikamegues who were established in the upper St. Maurice basin. “In all these regions,” wrote Buteux, “there are many other Tribes, – more than we can baptize, even if we had still forty years to live; and those people have no intercourse with us. It is from them that the Hurons, before their own country was desolated, obtained nearly all their Beavers, – the supply of which, being no longer diverted elsewhere, will now come to our French settlements, if the Iroquois do not disturb our repose.”

On 27 March 1651 Father Buteux, accompanied by two Frenchmen and some 40 Attikamegues, undertook the journey northward. The expedition lasted three months. The travellers reached regions inhabited by tribes who had had no contact with white men. Wishing to go as far as Hudson Bay the following year, Father Buteux had presents sent “to the Captains of some Tribes further to the North.” On 18 June 1651 he was back at Trois-Rivières. During July he set out on a mission in the direction of Tadoussac and Gaspé. At the end of the account of his journey to the source of the St. Maurice, the missionary had expressed his desire to push on further with his evangelizing explorations: “I hope next Spring to make the same journey, and to push still further toward the North Sea, to find there new tribes and entire new Nations wherein the light of the faith has never yet penetrated. Since that journey, the Iroquois have entered that country which seemed almost inaccessible” (Lake Kisagami). In a letter to Father Ragueneau he added: “I would never have thought that they could have found or reached that lake with their canoes. On the journey that I made to these regions, we walked about twenty days on the snow, before coming to it.” Dictionary of Canadian Biography. He died a few months after this account during his following mission journey. His party was attacked by a troop of Iroquois lying in ambush. He was shot and tomahawked.

An excellent copy of an exceptionally rare and important work.

BM STC Fr. C17th p. 269, J213. Sabin 67498 JFB. R13.


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BRESSANI, Francesco Giuseppe


Breue relatione d’alcune missioni de’ PP. della Compagnia di Giesù nella Nuoua Francia del P. Francesco Gioseppe Bressani

Macerata, Per gli heredi d’Agostino Grisei, 1653.


FIRST EDITION. 4to. pp. (iv), 8, ff. 9-10, pp. 11-127, (i). π², A⁴, χB² B⁴, (-B1) C-Q⁴. Roman letter, with some Italic. Large woodcut printer’s device on title page, floriated woodcut initials, modern bookplate of J. A. Freilich on pastedown. Age yellowing, light browning and spotting in places. A very good copy entirely unsophisticated in contemporary vellum over thin boards.

Exceptionally rare and important first edition of this work by the Jesuit Bressiani giving the first general description in Italian of the Jesuit missions in Canada among the Huron and Iroquois tribes. “Francesco Giuseppe Bressani published his Breve Relatione in Italian in 1653. It is the only part of the voluminous Jesuit Relations or Relations des Jésuites that is in Italian. It is a factual account of the years Bressani spent in New France as a missionary among the settlers and Native people. At the same time it is a vision of the possibilities of future Italian settlement in the New World. As a result Bressani’s chronicle may be examined as a testament to his religious faith and to his imagination in constructing the image of a martyr.” Joseph J. Pivato.

Bressani was born in Rome in 1612 and in 1626 joined the Society of Jesus. In 1642 Bressani was in Canada where he first worked in the French settlement of Quebec and the following year was sent to Trois Rivières to the Algonquin mission. In April, 1644, on his way west to the Huron missions he was captured by the Iroquois who killed one of his Huron companions and then took Bressani, a French boy, and five other Huron captives south into the territory which is now New York State. They tortured him for two months, before he was ransomed by Dutch settlers at Fort Orange and sent back to France in November, 1644. The following year he was back in Canada working at the Huron Missions until their destruction by Iroquois attacks four years later. In 1649 a war-party of some twelve hundred warriors attacked Huronia. By this time many Iroquois had firearms which they had procured from the Dutch on the Hudson River, the Jesuits were forced to retreat east to the territory of Quebec. Bressani, however, continued to work with the scattered and fugitive Hurons for some months back in the original Quebec settlements. Only his failing health forced him to return to Italy in 1650.

He opens his description with reference to Pope Urban VIII letter of 1638 that forbade the enslavement of Natives in the New World. As subjects of the missions the natives were recognised as human beings with souls that needed to be saved. It is clear that Bressani shared these ideals and enthusiastically followed them in his mission work. The Breve Relatione is organised into three parts. The first presents a very positive image of the missions: Bressani describes the geography and vegetation of Canada, and then deals with the Native people. The second describes the conversion of the Native people and the many difficulties encountered by the Jesuits who arrived to convert them. The third gives us graphic details about the suffering, torture, and martyrdom of the missionaries including the author. Bressani goes into great detail describing the society of the Hurons. He lists their food and feast celebrations, their communal singing and dances, explains marriage practices and compares them to those of the ancient Jews. He points out that in their system of government tribal chiefs are determined by succession by way of the mother’s line. In their system of justice crimes of theft and murder are dealt with through fines and gift giving for reparation. It is clear that he admires these people for their honesty, hospitality, and inherent sense of right and wrong.

He also describes the many obstacles the Jesuits encountered: the harsh climate, river rapids and waterfalls, the dangers of the journeys due to Iroquois attacks, the problems with the different Indian languages, conflict with the Indian medicine men, and the plagues which killed large groups of Natives. In the second part he includes his letter to his superior in which he recounts his capture by the Iroquois, his tortures, forced travels, beatings, starvation, mutilations, and final rescue. The third and final part of the Breve Relatione deals with the sufferings of the missionaries at the hands of the Iroquois in which Bressani gives several accounts of torture and martyrdom, reproduced from other volumes of the Jesuit Relations written in French, including the martyrdom of Father Isaac Jogues, Father Charles Garnier, and Noel Chabanel. He also recounts the fate of Father Anne de Noue who died of cold when he got lost in the snow.

“In the Italian we can almost hear Bressani’s voice as he argues that their (the Hurons’) intellectual capabilities and skills are as good as those of any bright Europeans. They are capable of learning and knowledge and of showing faith. What we find in the first chapters of Breve Relatione is an image of the noble savage, long before this idea was expressed by Jean Jacques Rousseau in 1778.” Joseph J. Pivato.

An excellent copy of this exceptionally rare work.

Not in BM STC It. C16th. Church 524. Sabin 7734 “very rare” JFB B493.


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La Sphere des deux mondes, composee en Francois, par Darinel, pasteur des Amadis

Antwerp, Iehan Richard, au Soleil d’Or, 1555.


FIRST EDITION. 8vo. ff. (iv) 57 (i.e. 58), (ii) . π⁴ A-M⁴, N4(N2 folding+’N3′), O-P⁴ last blank. Roman and Italic letter. Woodcut printer’s device on title, another on verso of last, woodcut initials, historiated woodcut tailpiece, typographical ornaments, 28 small woodcut illustrations in text, 19 full page maps, one folding. Age yellowing, t-p slightly dusty, two small tears in lower margin just touching imprint with no loss, some marginal soiling in places, the odd ink splash or mark, outer upper corner torn to map of Tunis with minor loss, tiny single worm hole in first four quires. A good copy in modern limp vellum antique, yapp edges remains of ties, spine with morocco label gilt.

A most interesting and unusual cosmography, exceptionally rare and beautifully illustrated with 19 important early maps including a fine world map and the most important Bellère map of the New World. Boileau de Bouillon was savant polymath who had extensive knowledge of various languages, principally French, Flemish, Latin, German and Spanish. He seems to have lived for many years in Liege and Antwerp before joining the service of Charles V with whose forces he travelled to Germany, France, Hungary and Italy. He was named ‘Commissaire et Controleur’ of the town of Cambrai for his services, but fell in disgrace shortly afterwards and had to take refuge in Paris, where he was taken in by Nicolas de Herberay, ‘Seigneur des Essarts’ who was also famous for his translations. He made his living with the pen as a poet and translator, but also with a particular interest in geographies and map-making. Apart from the fine series of maps in this work he published two very important original maps of Burgundy and Belgium.

This work is composed, curiously, of both text and poetry. The maps are not of his creation but are most judiciously chosen as the most up to date and accurate of the period. The 19 woodcut maps include a beautiful cordiform map of the world: “Universalis Cosmographia” and a very rare map of the Americas: Jean Bellère “Peru, brevis exactaque totius Novi Orbis ejusque Insularum descriptio recens a Joan Bellero edita.” This map “was popular during the middle of the sixteenth century and had great influence in showing more accurately the size and shape of the great South American continent” ‘World’. It is a particularly important and influential map, illustrating the south of the US, Central America, the Antilles, Bermuda and the Azores, and South America down to Magellan’s Strait. Apart from ‘Cuzco’ ‘Xaquixaguana’ and ‘Quito’, only coastal towns are covered, although the mountains of the southern USA, the Andes and the river Amazon are shown. Each map is accompanied by a curious cosmographical stanza. This is a particularly rare work and according to American Book Prices Current, no copy sold at auction in the past 35 years.

BM STC Dutch C16th p. 59 (under Darinel.) Alden & Landis 555/4. ‘Contains also the Bellère map of the New World found in edns of Cieza de Leon & Gomara of 1554’. Church 101. Sabin 18576. “A poetical volume of some rarity” see ‘The World Encompassed’ 201. JCB I:185.


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Sanctum Provinciale Concilium Mexici.

México, Juan Ruiz, 1622.


FIRST EDITION. Folio, ff. (6), 102, (1), 38, (1), missing final blank. Neat Roman letter; title with full-page engraved architectural border (outer edges frayed), secondary title within large woodcut frame, large decorated initials and elaborate hand- and tail-pieces in Spanish colonial style; light mostly marginal foxing to few leaves, light damp stain to lower gutter and foot of last gathering. A very good copy in contemporary limp vellum; a bit stained, reglued long since, spine holed; early shelf mark to front cover; unusual early monogram ‘AE LC OC’ branded on upper and lower edges; small “MM” ink stamps on verso of title and f. 52r; eighteenth-century handwritten monogram [RHPB?] at foot of first five leaves, the same hand annotating in Spanish in margins of gathering Hh and Kk; earlier extensive marginal annotations in Latin on first two leaves.

Extremely rare first edition of the decrees issued by the third Mexican Council of 1585 and approved by the papacy four years later. Gathered by the Viceroy and Archbishop Pedro Moya de Contreras, this highly influential assembly brought the decrees of the Council of Trent into the religious and social life of the New World, drawing up a legislation in use until the early twentieth century. Bishops attending the Council focused mainly on doctrine, the internal organization of the Mexican province, missionary activities and the rights of local people.

Their decisions were first recorded in Spanish and later translated into Latin, so as to be confirmed by the pope. Yet, the Roman cardinals’ committee in charge of approval rewrote a large part of the decrees, strictly sticking to those of the Tridentine Council. As a result, the final official text came out only in 1622. The printed marginalia of the volume refers constantly to the sources of the Mexican decrees. Along with canon law and papal bulls, they comprise the deliberations of the Council of Trent, of the five Synods held in Milan under Carlo Borromeo, as well as assemblies of the American and Spanish Church in Lima, Quiroga, Guadix and Granada. The final part of the book, and perhaps the most important, is devoted to the statutes of the recently-established Mexican Church.

The beautiful engraving of the title shows the personification of Faith and Church in a classical architectural frame. It is signed at the bottom by the Dutch artist Samuel Stradanus. Stradanus worked in New Spain from about 1604. His most prominent patron was the promoter of this belated first edition, Archbishop Juan Pérez de la Serna (1573-1627), whose arms appear at the head of the title.

Graesse, II, 245; Medina, México 343; Palau, 293978; Sabin, 48373. Not in JFB or Alden.


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ACOSTA, José de


De natura novi orbis … et de promulgatione Evangelii apud babaros.

Cologne, officina Birckmannica, 1596.


8vo., pp. (16), 581, (3). Roman letter, little italic. Jesuit device on title; slightly yellowed, occasional oil mark in margins; tiny burn mark affecting one letter on p. 1 and 373; few unprinted words completed in contemporary manuscript and later pencil at bottom of pp. 126 and 274. A good copy, in an early seventeenth-century English brown calf, blind-tooled plain style, probably Cambridge, multiple ruled borders with saw tooth edge, double fillet, central undecorated frame with fleurons at corners; a bit scratched and worn; rebacked, spine part remounted, all edges red; pastedowns from an early Roman letter edition of the King James Bible (2nd Maccabees, III, 1-21 and III, 25-40; IV, 1-2).

Third unaugmented edition of these pioneering treatises on the geography, anthropology and evangelisation of South America, previously published in Salamanca in 1588/ 1589 and 1595. José de Acosta (1540 – 1600) was among the first Jesuit missionaries to embark for the Spanish New World. He spent much of his life in Peru. The main settlement of the order was at that time in the village of Juli, on Lake Titicaca. Here, a college was set up to study the languages of the natives, while the newly-funded Jesuit printing press issued the first printed book of the Americas in 1577. Later, Acosta moved to Lima and taught theology at the university.

In the Third Council of Lima (1582 – 1583) reorganising the American church, Acosta took a very active part and became its official historian. Following an adventurous journey through Mexico, in 1587 he head back to Spain, where he was appointed head of the Jesuit college in Valladolid and later Salamanca. A prolific writer, he is mostly famous for his very successful Historia natural y moral de las Indias. This knowledgeable, realistic and detailed description of the New World was sought after and soon translated into Italian, French, German, Dutch and English. The Natura novi orbis opening this edition represents the early draft of the Historia. In it, Acosta provided the first account of altitude sickness, which affected him while crossing the Andes. He also divided the Amerindians into three categories, acknowledging the Incas and Aztecs as fairly advanced societies in the civilisation process.

The second part comprises a very innovative essay on evangelisation. Acosta struggles to demonstrate to his contemporaries that Amerindians were part of the original God’s plan for mankind and thus were not inferior creatures undeserved of being Christianised and saved. In grounding his argument, the idea that the first inhabitants of America migrated from the biblical world (specifically from Asia), played a crucial role. Indeed, he was the first writer to postulate the existence of a land bridge at the northern or southern extremities of the two continents, long before the discovery of the Bering Strait. In his missionary zeal, Acosta was much concerned with the preparation and morality of priests, who he encouraged to study the aboriginal languages as an essential part of their duties.

‘One of the earliest writers who have treated philosophically of America and its production.’ J. Sabin, A Dictionary of Books Related to America, I, p. 17.

BM STC Ger., p. 2; Adams, A 124; Brunet, I, 41; Graesse, I, 15; Leclerc, 4; Palau y Dulcet, I, 1979; Sabin, I, 120. Not in JFB nor in Alden.


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GYSIUS, Johannes and LAS CASAS, Bartolomé


Le miroir de la cruelle, & horrible tyrannie espagnole perpetree au Pays Bas, par le tyran duc de Albe, & aultres co[m]mandeurs de par le roy Philippe le deuxiesme: on a adjoinct la deuxiesme partie de les tyrannies commises aux Indes occidentales par les Espagnols.

Amsterdam, Ian Evertss. Cloppenburg, 1620.


FIRST EDITION thus. 4to. Two parts in one volume. ff. (iv), 87 (i.e. 88); ff. 68, (:)4 A-Y4 ; A-R4. Roman letter. Both titles with fine historiated engraved borders signed DVB [David Vinckeboons] in[cidit], DEL [Dirck Eversen Lons] fe[cit], scenes of torture and executions at corners, Philip above the Archdukes of the Netherlands at sides 37 half page engravings in text, floriated woodcut initials. Light age yellowing, occasional minor marginal water stain or spot, a little ink offsetting from the engravings, very outer upper corner of first title with small repair, first title page just trimmed to plate mark. A very good copy with good impression of the engravings, in slightly later speckled calf, covers bordered with a triple gilt rule, spine with raised bands gilt ruled in compartments central fleurons gilt, expertly re-backed with original spine laid down, corners restored, all edges gilt.

First edition of the of these two important works published in the Netherlands in 1620, containing French translations of two earlier works detailing Spanish crimes and atrocities in both Europe and the New World. The first part is an abridged version of ‘Oorsprong en voortgang der Nederlandtscher beroerten’ (Origin and progress of the disturbances in the Netherlands) by Johannes Gysius (died 1652), first published anonymously in 1616. The second part is a translation of Brevísima relación de la destrucción de las Indias (A short account of the destruction of the Indies), written by Bartolomé de las Casas (1474 – 1566) in 1542 and first published in 1552.

These histories were published together under a new title by Jan Evertszoon Cloppenburch (1571 – 1648), an Amsterdam bookbinder and publisher of Bibles and patriotic and religious books and tracts associated with the Dutch Reformed Church. Gysius was a minister, whose book is a history of the Dutch revolt against Spain in 1555 – 98, containing accounts of such events as the sieges of Haarlem, Leiden, and other cities and the execution by the Spanish of Count Egmont in Brussels in 1568. “Las Casas was reprinted in 1620 and 1630. The first of these editions appeared in Amsterdam without any prefatory matter, not even the author’s, relying largely on copperplates to tell a pictorial story of torture and cruelty on the title page and throughout the text.

The publisher, Jan Evertz Cloppenburg, presented a typology of Spanish cruelty. He included two title pages set up in identical ways with the same pictures. The first was on the Low countries and the second was about the New World and preceded Las Casas’ account. The first title page included writing surrounded by pictures of men, women and children being tortured. Philip of Spain presided at the top and centre above the title, his vassals “Don Jan” and the “Duke of Alva” are shown facing the title: the Spanish cruelty in the Netherlands was mirroring that in the New World. This symbolic correspondence was a central typology of the Old World and New. Cloppenburg was asking the readers to see the Old World through the New.

Here the publisher says that the Spaniards brought war and tyranny to the Low countries under the same religious pretext that they used to tyrannise the Natives in the New World a hundred years before. The heretics and the Lutherans in the Netherlands had taken the place of the pagans an Idolaters of the New World. In some of the engravings in Cloppenburg’s edition, the inhabitants of the Netherlands are naked like the Natives. The translation, which is from the Dutch, sometimes elaborates beyond Las Casas’ original to make the Spaniards seem even crueler. The engravings of the Flemish artist Theodore de Bry, which had been in the Frankfurt Latin edition of Las Casas in 1598, constituted part of this edition, where they reinforced visually the worst atrocities in the text.” Jonathan Hart ‘Literature, Theory, History.’ A good copy of this important reinterpretation of both works.

Simoni BM STC Low Countries 1601-1621 p. 255 G197. Alden 620/37 and 620/74; Sabin 11270. Palau 172663, 46962.


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Thaumatographia naturalis.

Amsterdam, Guilielm Blaeu, 1632.


FIRST EDITION. 12mo., (xii) 501 (iii). Roman and Italic letter, woodcut initials and tail-pieces, title page with printer’s device of an orrery. Light age browning, otherwise a good clean copy with C17 annotations, in contemporary English calf, covers triple-ruled in blind, spine remounted, all edges red.

FIRST EDITION of Jonston’s most popular work on “admiranda” or wonders of nature organised into ten categories (heaven, earth, and topics relating to meteors, ‘fossils’ or minerals, plants, birds, quadrupeds, insects and ‘bloodless’ animals, fish, and humans). The work draws heavily from classical sources such as Aristotle, Pliny, and Seneca, but also from the more recent work of Aldrovandi, and in the section on plants includes descriptions of the flora and fauna of the New World, as well as tobacco. Each section is headed by a useful index to its contents, and the work concludes with a poem in praise of Jonston by the Bohemian poet Venceslaus Clemens.

John Jonston (1603 – 1675) emigrated from Poland to Scotland in 1622 and studied natural history at St. Andrew’s for four years. He received the degree of Doctor of Physic from both Leyden and Cambridge. Despite the compact size of Thaumaturgia, his earliest work, its wide range of material prefigures his later, large-scale works on Fish, Insects, Birds, and Trees, made possible by his extensive travel through Europe and access to its libraries, as well as first-hand observation.

Venceslaus Clemens (1589 – 1640?), Protestant and prolific Neo-Latin poet, was forced to leave his native Bohemia after the Battle of White Mountain. His Gustavis, printed the same year as the Thaumatographia, describes the anguish of exile and praises Gustavus Adolphus and the victory of the Swedish Army at the Battle of Breitenfeld, which Clemens credits as saving the Protestant cause in Europe.

Garrison-Morton 287 “A compilation of all the contemporary zoological knowledge”. Wellcome I 3477. Alden II 632/48. Not in Shaaber or Sabin.


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LE PETIT, François


La Grande Chronique de Hollande, Zelande, Westfrise, Utrecht, Frise, Overyssel & Groeningen (etc.).

Dordrecht, Jacob Canin chez Guillaume Guillemot, 1601.


FIRST EDITION. Folio, three parts in two volumes, pp. (xxii) 650 (ii); 240 (xviii), (xvi) 780 (misnumbered 779) (xvi). Roman letter, Italic side notes, text in double column. Woodcut floriated and grotesque initials, both titles within splendid engraved architectural border with the instruments of learning above, of the arts, sciences and war at sides, and scenes depicting mercantile and maritime activity beneath, full-page portrait of the author and 57 three-quarter page engravings of emperors, governors and other important figures, including Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley, by Christoph von Sichem. Contemporary autograph of ‘Simeon Mahon, Chartain’ (Chartres) and autograph of ‘Challine Boilleau’ on title-page, Nicolas-Joseph Foucault’s engraved armorial bookplate on pastedowns, C19 armorial bookplate of the Earl of Macclesfield on fly, Shirburn Castle blind stamp to head of first three leaves of both volumes. Closed tear (original paper flaw) in plate on A1 vol 2, I1 verso and I8 recto printed upside down, R2 inserted in the wrong place, paper flaw in Mm3 vol 2, light age yellowing, a few sheets browned, printer’s ink thumbing in a few margins. A very good copy, with generally very good impression of the plates, in contemporary calf, covers bordered with a single gilt filet, gilt laurel oval at centers, spines with raised bands blind-ruled with gilt fleurons at centers. Title gilt-lettered in compartment, all edges of volume I yellow, those of volume II blue, head and tail of spines a little chipped, covers a little scratched.

First edition of this highly important and beautifully illustrated history of the Dutch Republic, printed privately for the author. The commendatory verses include one in Dutch by Nicholas Doublet. Although the author covers the whole of the country’s history up to 1600, about two thirds of the text is devoted to the C16th., making it one of the most detailed sources for the struggle for Dutch independence. Le Petit lists some 160 authors whose works he employed in his compilation, but much of its value lies in his use of manuscripts and original documents, and in his account of events otherwise unrecorded in printed histories.

Le Petit’s own history reflects the unsettled nature of the times he describes: although born in 1546 at Béthune into a noble Belgian family, he later abjured Catholicism and fled to Holland where he served William Ist, Prince of Orange. By 1598 he was living in Aix-la-Chapelle where he wrote his “Grande Chronicle” and dedicated it to the Estates-General of the United Provinces. An account of the reputed Swiss engravers, Christoph von Sichem Sr. and Jr., is given in Nagler II pp. 309-11. The portraits are generally finely engraved and are often expressive and vital, especially the superb full page portrait of the author after the title.

About sixteen pages in volume I describe the geography of the New World, the supposed origins of its native inhabitants, the voyages of discovery, the conquest of the Indians, the climate, agriculture and resources of the Americas, their colonization and government, the missions, and the shameful treatment of the Indians by the Spaniards. Further pages deal with the expeditions of the Dutch to the East Indies and their commerce and colonization there. In volume II Drake’s exploits against the Spaniards in the New World are recorded.

“Cette chronique, écrite en mauvais français, est fort curieuse pour les nombreux faits qu’elle relate, et que l’auteur a puisés aux sources originales. … Il dit dans son épitre dédicatoire qu’il a décrit les choses après les avoir vues sur les lieux, et promet d’être beaucoup plus exact que Guichardin qu’il contredit souvent” (Nouv. Biog. Gén.). “En revanche la valeur historique du 2e vol., qui embrasse la période de 1556-1600, est incontestable; il contient, à coté d’extraits de plusieurs auteurs antérieurs, beaucoup de détails et de particularités qu’on chercherait vainement ailleurs.” Biblioteca Belgica.

A very good copy, from the exceptional library of Nicholas Joseph Foucault (b. 1643, d. 1721), marquis de Magny, statesman and passionate archaeologist, whose library was “parmi les plus précieuse concernant l’histoire de France” (Guigard II p. 221). Along with many of Foucault’s books, it later became part of the equally extraordinary library of the Earls of Macclesfield.

Simoni, L 77. Brunet II 991 “Cet ouvrage est aujourd’hui assez rare” .Graesse IV,169. Bibl. Belgica L60. Not in JFB or Alden, European Americana.


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PLINY, C. Secundus


C. Plinii Seundi Novocomensis de uiris illustribus liber (with) Suetonii Tranquilli de claris grammaticis et rhetoribus liber (and) Iulii Obsequentis Prodigiorum liber imperfectus.

Paris, Robert Estienne, 1544


8vo. pp. 92 [xii] (interleaved with blank gatherings throughout ff [xvi] A8 [viii] B8 [viii] C8 [viii] D8 [viii] E8 [viii] F8 [viii] G4 [xxiv]). Roman and Italic type, t.p. with Estienne’s device, ms ex libris “J. Oldham Septem. 30 1627” on t.p. Remains of stubs, ms. annotation on some of the blanks, rear pastedown, and later ms ex libris on fly ”Guil Hen. Harris” of Corpus Christi College Cambridge (ca. 1702-6) “donum M[agister] Burrough”, probably Thomas Burrough of the same. Light age yellowing, t.p. a bit dusty, a nice well-margined copy in English calf c. 1600, gilt panels on covers, spine cracked at upper joint, gilt in eight compartments with floral devices, all edges speckled red.

An anonymous collection of short biographies of illustrious rulers from Roman history, ascribed to various writers of antiquity: Pliny the Younger (61-ca. 112 AD), Suetonius (70-130 AD), biographer Cornelius Nepos (110-25 BC), and Aurelius Victor (ca. 320-390), a later historian who wrote about the imperial history of Rome and served under Emperor Julian.

The “J. Oldham” ex libris (and matching marginal annotations throughout, including a recipe for broth scribbled onto the front fly leaf) is most probably John Oldham (1592?-1636), an early settler in North America. He was a controversial figure, linked with those ‘peculiars’ who migrated to the new world for economic rather than religious reasons, although he is described in William Bradford’s Of Plymouth Plantation along with John Lyford as disruptive of colony life. The two were later thrown out of Plymouth for “disturbing the peace” – assembling a faction of Episcopalians (after the example set in the Virginia colony) in an attempt to reform local religion. Despite his unpopularity, Oldham made his fortune in coastal trade, and was well-known for maintaining relations with natives in the area. Eventually he made amends with the Plymouth colony, for whom he conveyed a ship to England in 1626. The dated inscription in this book, September 30 1627, is significant: it was during that time the Oldham was in London on business for the Plymouth Colony. While in England he purchased a five-mile tract of land by the Charles River from John Gorges – however his purchase was invalidated by the Massachusetts Bay Company who claimed ownership. After the dispute was settled (in the Company’s favour) in 1629 Oldham returned to the colonies, and between 1632-4 he served in the General Court of Massachusetts on behalf of the town of Watertown, where he had settled. It was during this time that he represented the people of Watertown during their resistance of ‘Taxation without Representation’ the first protest of its kind in the colonies over a century and a half before the American Revolution. (Bond cit. infr.) In 1634 he set out from Watertown to help establish the first English settlement in present-day Connecticut – Wethersfield.
Oldham’s sudden death in 1636 was no less full of adventure and intrigue as his life: during a voyage to Block Island to trade with the natives there, several Pequot warriors boarded his ship, killed its crew including Oldham, and looted its cargo. The Bay Colony sought revenge against the Pequots immediately, prompting the outbreak of the Pequot War (Oxford DNB).

Renouard 1544.27. Henry Bond, et al. Genealogies of the Families and Descendants of the Early Settlers of Watertown, Massachusettes. pp. 862-864.


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